What if the Summer Olympic Games this year were in Bangkok, rather than Brazil?
Soon the world’s best athletes will convene in sunny Rio for the chance to bring sports glory home to their nations.
But what would it look like if the games were in the Big Mango instead?
The summer games in Bangkok could put an interesting twist on going for the gold.
Here are a few Bangkok sporting events that could be unique to our sweltering hometown.
Event: 100 Meter Khlong Freestyle
In this aquatic event, swimmers would brave the murky waters of the Saen Saep Canal to see who can race to the finish first.
More than simply speed, swimmers would need to keep as much of their body out of the water as possible so as to avoid a slimy infection caught from contact with the canal’s legendary dirty water.
Extra points will be awarded if any swimmer can bring up my mother’s Raybans that fell into the khlong by Pratunam pier last December.
To add an element of thrill, canal express boats will still be allowed to ply the waters, testing swimmer’s reaction times to quickly get out of the way.
Cheating by using discarded Styrofoam blocks as swimmies is ingenious — though not permitted.
Event: Jatujak Market Relay
Here, runners will compete in a track and field event set in Jatujak Market on a crowded Saturday morning.
The goal is for a team of relay runners to make an entire lap around the market in the fastest time.
But there’s a catch — each runner must first find and haggle for a pair of shoes to run in before the actual racing can begin.
Gold medal distinction goes to the team that both bartered for the best price and also ran the fastest in the most uncomfortable shoes.
Runners racing through the market in leopard print high heels would need to gracefully avoid strategically positioned groups of dawdling tourists, who will try to block runners.
Creating a team of huskies from the pet section to pull you through the course is regretfully not allowed.
Event: Chao Phraya Rowing Competition
You might be familiar with the dazzling display of the royal barges traversing up the river, however for this event we will focus on Bangkok ingenuity more than beauty.
Rowing teams will need to navigate up the chaotically busy river in a craft of their own construction.
Creativity will help as rowers have a wide range of floating garbage to choose from to construct their boat.
Traffic-choking swaths of river plants will likely prove an impediment to efficient rowing, while hazards such as high-speed longtail boat drive-bys will test the performance of the hand-crafted vessels ability to handle waves.
Teams successfully completing the race without a catastrophic crash are awarded not only a medal, but also a speedboat license for Phuket.
Event: Ghost Tower Stair Challenge
This event will see athletes bravely going where all too many stupid adventurous foreigners have already gone before — to the top of the allegedly haunted Sathorn Unique ‘ghost tower’.
Athletes have the daunting task of navigating from the ground floor to the roof as fast as possible, after negotiating for access with the guard on duty.
Armed with GoPros so spectators can watch them trip over debris on the way up, athletes will need to find their way to the top via the labyrinth of decaying stairs.
The shock factor of seeing any potentially decomposing bodies will only serve to add to the excitement.
To confuse participants, before the race, staff will spray paint misleading graffiti directions at pivotal points inside the tower.
Proof of winning will go to the first climber to post a selfie from the top to their Instagram with the hashtag #dumbideasinBKK.
Event: Patpong–Silom Obstacle Course Dash
There are a lot of people to piss off in Patpong, and this event aims to test the fine athletes that can circumnavigate these characters the best.
Starting from Silom MRT station, the course will pass down Silom Road, through Patpong Night market, a string of gogo bars, and finally end at Soi Twilight.
Runners will encounter a bevy of angry street sellers who will be instructed to chase the participants with a variety of props or weapons.
Think of it as Bangkok’s version of the Zombie Run, but with enraged taxi drivers and sprinting ladyboys instead of the undead.
Runners who deftly avoid getting pummeled by cabbies and overzealous street Viagra vendors are treated to a spiked victory drink served by a Cambodian male gogo dancer at the end of the course.
Winners will not be required to also purchase said gogo dancer a drink, unless they want a victory lap dance.
Event: Mental Endurance Test
This final competition tests the strength athletes possess inside rather than outside.
The emphasis for this won’t be on brawn, but on the ability of (expat, preferably New Yorker) participants to keep their cool when faced with a myriad of typical Bangkok stress situations.
Competitors will be tested to see who can practice the fine art of jai yen through encounters with cabbies who won’t turn on meters, immigration officers who close the counter when you are next in queue, and Nana-based salesmen who really, really want you to buy a tailored suit at midnight on a Saturday.
Winners who stay cool-headed through it all are awarded with a multiple-entry visa and a Rabbit card that may or may not be loaded with enough cash to take you back to your hotel.
Notable Auxiliary Olympic Events
- Checkpoint Challenge: how many kilometers can you drive around Sukhumvit on a Saturday night without hitting a police drug checkpoint?
- MBK Knock-Offs: can you spot the real Versace bag?
- Tuk Tuk Trial: how many sweaty tourists can fit into one tuk tuk?
Last but not least, we wish Team Thailand all the best in the 2016 Rio Games!
Featured image is a WOS mashup of CC BY 2.0 licenced images by Peter Zoon and DrCliffordChoi